For the first time in six years, a vocalist from Joint Base Lewis-McChord is one of 12 finalists in the Armywide Operation Rising Star singing competition.
Private 1st Class Kiari Mhoon of the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, won the JBLM competition last October against a field of 34 aspiring singers. Now he will head to Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, for the competitions ninth season finals to be aired online on the Operation Rising Star website Sunday at 4 p.m.
Mhoon said he was ecstatic when he heard the news in November and cant wait to see and hear the skills other 11 contestants bring to the competition.
Im actually ready to hear other peoples singing and expressing their talent, Mhoon said.
Nearly 30 individual competitions took place over the last few months at installations across the U.S. as well as Europe, Asia and Africa.
JBLM event coordinator Bill Strock said JBLM last sent its best singers to the finals the first two seasons of Operation Rising Star back when it was called Military Idol.
Strock believes Mhoon has the potential to win the competition with his combination of vocal skills and high energy.
I think vocally he really strives to be an exciting singer, Strock said. Once he feels comfortable singing, he turns on the charisma. Hes kind of the whole package.
Mhoon grew up inspired by musicians like Michael Jackson. He copied his dance moves and tried to hit every note that the King of Pop could in his long career.
Though hes been preparing a long time, Mhoons first chance to perform in front of a large crowd came earlier this year when his unit asked him to sing the national anthem at a professional bull riding event at the Tacoma Dome. A 1-23 Inf. leader called and told him he was the man for the job.
The Tomahawks also supported him during the four-week Rising Star competition and helped rally the vote for him as JBLMs best singer.
I really thank them for all they have done for me and all they have invested in time and effort, Mhoon said.
In preparation for the Operation Rising Star finals, Mhoon said hes been relaxing his mind, going over the songs he knows and brushing up on his dance moves.
I want to be very polished when I get there, Mhoon said.
Each episode will be available to view for 24-hour periods with unlimited online voting open for that same period.
The semifinal round is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 4 p.m. and the final round on Dec. 12 at 4 p.m.. The 2013 Operation Rising Star winner will be revealed Dec. 14 at 4 p.m.
According to the Operation Rising Star website, the winner will receive an all expense paid trip to record a three-song CD in a professional studio and will take home a demo CD along with $1,000.
Strock said the Warrior Zone on Lewis North is scheduled to host a viewing party for the JBLM community to watch the pre-recorded show at noon and 7 p.m. each day the show is available. The computers at the Warrior Zone will also be open all day for voting.